Post-lingual impairments are far more common. In the most typical case, hearing loss is gradual, and often detected by the affected person's family and friends long before the person themself will acknowledge the disability. In cases where the cause is environmental, the treatment is to eliminate the environmental cause and fit the person with hearing aids. When the loss is due to heredity, total deafness is often the end result. On the one hand, persons suffering from gradual deterioration of their hearing are fortunate in that they have learned to speak. On the other, they often suffer from social isolation, because they can no longer understand their friends, who cannot communicate effectively with them. Ultimately, unless the affected person becomes skilled in speech-reading ("lip-reading"), she will depend on sign language for communication.

In some cases, the loss is extremely sudden. Most often, the cause is unknown. Sometimes, it can be traced to specific diseases, such as meningitis, or to ototoxic medications, such as Gentamicin. In both cases, the final degree of loss varies. Some suffer only partial loss, while others become profoundly deaf. In the former case, hearing aids can be used with varying degrees of success, depending on the exact nature of the loss. In the latter, ultimately the affected person will depend on speech-reading and/or sign language for communication.

Table of contents
1 Partial Loss of Hearing
2 Social Impact of hearing loss
3 How to communicate with someone who has a hearing loss
4 Quotation
5 External links

Partial Loss of Hearing

Hearing impaired persons with partial loss of hearing may find that the quality of their hearing varies from day to day, or from one situation to another. They will also, to a greater or lesser extent depend on both hearing-aids and lip-reading, similarly to more severely disabled people. They may perhaps not always be aware of it, but they do admit to it being important to see the speaker's face in conversation.

Some people may merely find it difficult to differentiate between words that begin with consonantal sounds such as the fricativess s, z, or th, or the plosivess d, t, b, or p. They may be unable to hear thin, high-pitched or metallic noises, such as birds chirping or singing, clocks ticking, etc.

Others will find their condition so much worse if circumstances in their immediate environment affect the way they are able to use their hearing-aids, or prevent them from employing their lip-reading skills. A room with a high ceiling, sound-absorbing materials or acoustic tiles on the walls will affect the sound of a speaker's voice adversely. The position of the listener,too, sitting at a right angle to the speaker at a long seminar table, thus being able to hear only with one, maybe the ineffectual ear, can make a difference. Difficulties can also arise for the listener trying to lip-read, if the speaker is sitting with his back against the light-source and is in this way obscuring his face.

The speaker's accent; the topic under discussion, possibly with many unfamiliar words; the softness of his voice; possibly his having a speech impediment; a habit of holding a hand in front of his mouth or turning his face away at times: all these tendencies cause problems to the hard-of-hearing, especially when they have to rely on lip-reading. The rustling of papers, and notebook pages being turned are precisely the noises that will be the first thing hearing-aids pick up.

Social Impact of hearing loss

Those who lose their hearing later in life, such as in late adolescence or adulthood, face their own challenges. For example, they must adjust to living with the adaptive devices that make it possible for them to live independently. They must also adapt to using hearing aids and/or learning sign language. Loneliness and depression can arise as a result of isolation (from the inability to communicate with friends and loved ones) and difficulty in accepting their disability. The challenge is made greater by the need for those around them to adapt to the person's hearing loss.

How to communicate with someone who has a hearing loss

  1. Ask the person what will be most useful for them; this varies from one individual to another.
  2. Speak normally. Do not shout or over-enunciate. Both of these make it more difficult to understand speech, not less.
  3. Conversely, do not mumble, cover your mouth, or whisper when speaking. All of these can conceal vital speech-reading cues that hearing impaired people use to decipher what is being said. A "favorite" pet peeve of the hearing impaired is people who speak from another room - How are they to speech-read with a wall between them and the speaker?
  4. If asked to repeat yourself, don't. Rephrase instead. By using different words, your friend will be able to use two data sets to understand what you meant. (This is good advice for those with normal hearing, too!) Obviously, if only one word was missed, you can try just repeating that word, or a synonym. This is the area where people vary most: some hearing-impaired people find rephrasing very frustrating, because they have to start over: when a sentence is repeated, they can put together the syllables or words they heard the first time with those in the repetition. When in doubt, ask "Should I repeat that exactly?"
  5. Reduce background noise by turning off the TV and radio, and closing windows. All of these can provide distractions that cause communication to break down completely. They also impede the perception of whatever auditory cues your friend is able to pick up and use.
  6. For small children learning to talk, use context to help them decipher what you are saying. (Additionally, some studies indicate that hearing impaired children who are allowed to lead conversation acquire speech much more successfully than those whose parents attempt to guide conversation for them.)


External links